Sunday, 26 September 2010

EDM 557 and Britain's need for nuclear.

A British parliament 'early day motion' recently came to my attention. It is entitled "INQUIRY INTO NEW NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS".

These motions seldom get discussed but an interesting point regarding the British need for nuclear power is raised.

I will discuss one major point below while the full text of the motion can be found here EDM 557.

therefore calls on the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to suspend any decision to build new nuclear power stations and to commence immediately a parliamentary and public investigation into the need for new nuclear power stations and related matters including their cost, their effect on electricity prices and on fuel bills, and on whether they, or the alternatives to nuclear, are the best ways to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and to create jobs in the energy sector.
The majority of our electricity is produced all year round by the burning of fossil fuels. Our few operational Nuclear power stations ensure that around 12-15% of this electricity is produced in a carbon free way. Wind and hydro contribute some 2% to this carbon free energy production.

Public investigations aside, do this figures not clearly demonstrate the clear and present need for getting the new nuclear builds underway as soon as possible?

Here is a graph of today's electricity generation.

  The graph shows how much electricity the various types of generation stations provided for each thirty-minute "settlement period" throughout the day (this is today's information).

The important bit is to take note of the contributions between nuclear and fossil fuels. Nuclear throughout the day provided a pretty steady 5000 Megawatts. The coal and gas stations (yellow and khaki?) provided at most points during the day remaining 73% of the required generation.

Interestingly at times of lower demand such as the weekends we in Britain actually purchase around 5% of our required electricity from France. France apparently has a surplus of inexpensive electricity to sell (I wonder if that has anything to do with 75% of it being generated by nuclear?). This is the blue bar you can see.

Wind (orange) and hydro (blue) make up the remainder. 

So back to my point. Do we want to turn this graph around and have 75% generated by carbon free nuclear, and potentially the remainder by wind and hydro? If the answer is yes then we must wholeheartedly commit to getting our new nuclear power stations underway. 

This would seem to answer EDM 557's question quite clearly. Do we need nuclear in Britain? Resoundingly, YES.